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Cause of Drake power plant fire released

By Scott Elliott, Producer, scott.elliot@krdo.com
Published On: May 07 2014 10:01:23 AM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2014 01:06:27 PM CDT
Fire Leaves Power Plant s Future Utility Rates Uncertain

Amount of damage, cost of repair may determine whether Drake facility in Colorado Springs ultimately will remain open or close.

The City of Colorado Springs released the following statement about the Drake Power Plant fire:

On May 5, 2014 at 9:40 a.m., Colorado Springs firefighters were dispatched to a reported structure fire at the Colorado Springs Utilities Martin Drake Power Plant, 700 Conejos Street.  The first CSFD engine arrived within five minutes to find a large body of fire and a large volume of smoke coming from the building. Firefighters immediately began an aggressive interior fire attack and quickly knocked down the main body of the fire. The fire was declared under control at 12:42 p.m. Crews worked the afternoon and into the evening overhauling hot spots to ensure the fire was extinguished. 

CSFD responded to this four alarm fire call with a total of 23 fire apparatus and approximately 120 CSFD firefighters and support personnel were on scene.  The quick and decisive actions taken by the first arriving fire crews and the Incident Commander resulted in the main body of fire being quickly extinguished and prevented additional damage from occurring.

One Colorado Springs Utilities contractor was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries and later released. One Colorado Springs Utilities employee was evaluated on scene and released. There were no firefighter injuries.

During the fire, a voluntary evacuation encompassed an approximately five block radius, excluding the I-25 corridor which impacted an estimated 785 residents.  An unconfirmed number of businesses and their employees were also affected for approximately four hours.  This including closing the railroad to all train traffic for the same time period.

The initial phase of the investigation has determined the fire to be accidental as a result of free flowing lubricating oil coming in contact with high temperature steam pipes which resulted in the flash fire. The fire was fed by the free flowing lubricating oil which increased the fire’s size and severity until fire department crews arrived and were able to suppress the fire. The investigation will be ongoing and may take several weeks to determine all the factors surrounding the cause of the fire. More information will be provided once the investigation is complete.

The Division of the Fire Marshal is working with Colorado Springs Utilities to verify various fire suppression systems are in good working order in other critical areas of the plant and to gather information on processes, procedures and chemicals.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department acknowledges and thanks its mutual aid partners for responding in support of this incident, both to staff Colorado Springs fire stations and/or assist at the scene.  Those that responded were the Air Force Academy Fire Department, Cimarron Hills Fire Department, Fountain Fire Department, Fort Carson Fire Department, Manitou Springs Fire Department, Security Fire Department, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department and Donald Wescott Fire Department.  Support was also provided by the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management, Colorado Springs Police Department, American Medical Response, the Salvation Army and Colorado Springs Utilities.

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